WorkFirst HandBook

Education and Training

7.2 Vocational Education

Legal References:

The Vocational Education section includes:

The following sections give information about the requirements and approval process for each of these educational options.

There may be instances when basic skills education has been embedded by the college within a vocational educational training activity. Such basic skills education may be counted as vocational educational training as long as it is short-term and is a necessary or regular part of the vocational educational training.

Whenever possible, it is recommended that the parent pursue these vocational education activities on a full-time basis as there is a lifetime 12-month limit on vocational education with respect to counting toward federal participation.

A parent who has previously participated in a vocational educational activity may benefit from additional vocational education as long as the parent does not exceed the lifetime 12-month limit on vocational education.

Education and Training Hours

To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the parent is in the education and training activities, to include classes, labs, and supervised study halls/tutoring sessions and up to one hour of unsupervised study time for every scheduled hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation cannot exceed the hours required or advised by a particular educational program.

For more information on how to calculate education and training hours, please refer to section 7.1.3.

7.2.1 What is Vocational Education (VE)?

Vocational education includes training that leads to a certificate or degree in a specific occupation. Vocational education programs are organized educational programs that directly relate to the preparation of individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations that require training other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree. To count as approvable vocational education for WorkFirst, the training must be provided by a:

Vocational education is authorized as a Core Activity if the parent participates in this activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Vocational education may be stacked with work or work-like activities if parents need additional activities to meet their participation requirements.

7.2.2 What is Customized Job Skills Training (PE)?

Customized Job Skills Training (PE), formerly known as Pre-employment training, is an 8-22 week training program that is customized for specific employers or tied to a specific industry. CJSTs must include industry-specific technical training, be tied to jobs with good labor market demand, and target fields with better than average entry-level wages for your local area.

Customized Job Skills Training is authorized as a Core Activity as long as the parent participates in this activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Parents meeting the Criteria for Decision Making requirements for CJST must be able to begin the CJST within 30 days. During the up-to 30-day waiting period, the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS)/WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) should review other available work activities such as Community Service opportunities stacked with non-core activities to meet participation requirements.

CJSTs are reported as vocational education for federal participation requirements.

7.2.3 What is Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training - I-BEST (VE)?

Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) combines vocational skill training with basic skills/ESL. It is considered full-time training and must meet full-time standards. Adult Basic Education (ABE)/ English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors and professional-technical instructors work together in the classroom to provide students with literacy education and workforce skills.

A parent who qualifies for ABE/ESL according to the CASAS appraisal and who wants to learn language or basic skills in the context of a particular vocational skill area would benefit from I-BEST. I-BEST is approved for up to 12 months when:

I-BEST is authorized as a Core Activity if the parent participates in this activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week. I-BEST may be stacked with work or work-like activities if parents need additional activities to meet their participation requirements.

I-BEST programs are reported as vocational education for federal participation requirements.

7.2.4 When can you add Vocational Education, CJST, or I-BEST to an IRP?

Parents in approved education and training qualify for child care assistance and support services once it is added to the person's IRP. The WFPS/WFSSS may add Vocational Education, CJST, or I-BEST to the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) when it is indicated as an appropriate activity in the comprehensive evaluation results or the CAP . Each educational program option has its own criteria. Please see "Criteria for Decision Making" .

7.2.5 VE, CJST, or I-BEST programs - Step-by-step Guide

If the appropriate Employment Pathway is education and training then:

  1. The parent meets with the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. The WFPS/WFSSS will:
    1. Determine if the training request appears to be appropriate*
    2. After completing the CE chooses the Education and Training employment pathway and refers to the college using the RA code
    3. Updates the IRP.
    4. Explains to the parents the participation requirements until the referral is approved.
  3. College staff will:
    1. Follow through on training requests within seven days and make the final decision whether to approve Vocational Education, CJST, or I-BEST program.
    2. Create a training plan.
    3. Use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool to determine the total number of hours per week the parent will be participating, including: scheduled class time; unsupervised homework time, any scheduled supervised homework time and the maximum number of allowable education hours.
    4. Update the Education & Training Worksheet to include the totals identified by the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, the parent's approval status, the appropriate component, the anticipated start and end date of the activity, and the total number of hours per week the parent will be participating, and send notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the individual is approved for Vocational Education, CJST, or I-BEST education program from the college WorkFirst coordinator.
    2. Enters eJAS component code ( PE or VE ) with the three digit contractor code,
    3. Updates parent's IRP, and
    4. Documents action taken in eJAS.
  5. College WorkFirst personnel will work with all parents in approved training as follows:
    1. Supervision: Daily supervision is required and may be provided by faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and supervisors of work-based learning activities. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is doing well in his or her program and making progress towards meeting her or his educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation: Attendance records will be documented every two weeks and maintained in the college's or provider's students' files. This information will be provided in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual as well as the student or documented in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate. A copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours will be kept in the parent's file.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Use eJAS, to report parent participation to the WFPS/WFSSS on a monthly basis,
      2. Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the student is not maintaining satisfactory progress or fails to participate as required or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.4 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification: Provide information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.
    5. Assist the graduates to become employed.
    6. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the parent to employment services activities if not employed upon completion of the training.

* If the employment plan recommendation or continuous activity planning is not appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2 Comprehensive Evaluation.

7.2.6 What Participation is Required During Summer School Breaks?

Parents are required to engage in approved WorkFirst activities during summer school break. This may include other education and training, job preparation, or paid or unpaid work activities. Colleges will provide many of these additional activities.

7.2.7 Summer School Breaks - Step-by-step Guide

For parents who will be enrolled in job preparation activities by the college during the summer break (i.e. Life Skills training):

College staff will:

  1. Update the educational plan in eJAS with the following information:
    1. What activity the parent will be engaged in during the summer break
    2. The dates of the activities
    3. The component code to be used for the parent's activity
  2. The WFPS will:
    1. Review the educational plan
    2. Update the component code per college staff recommendation
    3. If needed, adjust the IRP dates, but do not change the IRP template
    4. Set an alert/reminder to appropriately update the component for fall quarter.

For those parents either:

  1. College staff will:
    1. Refer the parent back to DSHS
    2. Update eJAS notes with why the parent is being referred back and whether the parent is enrolled in school for fall quarter
  2. The WFPS will:
    1. Make contact with the parent and discuss the appropriate activity for the parent during the summer break
    2. Update the component and IRP for the appropriate activity
    3. Set an alert/reminder to refer the parent back to the college in the fall

Parents continuing to participate in vocational education activities during the summer break can remain in a VE component with no change to the IRP.

For parents who will be starting employment during the summer break or increasing their work hours, the WFPS will need to review the parent's employment and update the component and IRP as appropriate.

7.2.8 What is High-Wage, High-Demand (HWHD) training?

High-Wage, High-Demand training (HWHD) - eJAS component HW), and Degree Completion (DC) training refer to vocational training programs that meet both a minimum wage and a labor market demand threshold as outlined in the High Wage, High Demand Criteria, results in a vocational certificate or degree, and can be completed within a total of 12 months.

The rules for both types of training (High-Wage/High-Demand and Degree Completion) are basically the same and described in WAC 388-310-1000(4), but the approval processes differ. Both are full-time training options for TANF recipients:

  1. High-wage, High-demand training (called Information Technology, Healthcare or Other Professional-Technical Programs in WAC): This option allows individuals to start and finish a one-year or shorter state community or technical college training program in the information technology, health care fields or other professional-technical programs that meet HWHD criteria. It can also include training from other educational institutions approved on a case-by-case basis by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges .
  2. Certificate/Degree Completion: This option allows individuals to finish up the last year of any certificate or degree program, not to exceed a baccalaureate degree, in a high-wage/high-demand field on an exception basis. The high-wage/high-demand criteria for this option is based on median income and high-demand occupations within the local labor market as determined by employment security department.
7.2.9 What is a HWHD field?

For both HWHD and Degree Completion, the program must be in a High Wage, High Demand field as defined below.

  1. High-Wage : For Seattle-King County , the job must pay $14.00 an hour or more. The high-wage rate for the rest of the state is $12.00 an hour or more. This is the hourly mean wage according to Workforce Explorer . If you have a program that does not meet the hourly mean wage criteria, but you have other documentation that enables it to meet the wage threshold, please provide the program name and your rationale for inclusion along with the rest of your program list.
  2. High-Demand : The job must appear on the demand list according to Workforce Explorer . If you have a program that does not meet the high demand criteria, but you have other documentation that substantiates significant employment opportunities, please provide the program name and your rationale for inclusion along with the rest of your program list.

If the above information is not available for the program, but local staff believe the program meets the high wage and high demand criteria, staff should compile demand and wage information for which access is available.

7.2.10 Who can provide HWHD and Degree Completion training?

Institutions authorized to provide HWHD and Degree Completion training may include:

7.2.11 What are the participation requirements for HWHD and Degree Completion training?

For federal participation reporting purposes, HWHD and Degree Completion training is reported as a core activity and counts toward the 12-month lifetime limit for Vocational Education. It should be as full-time as possible and can include both supervised and unsupervised homework time.

If an individual is participating in HWHD or Degree Completion less than full time, then the WFPS/WFSSS must stack appropriate activities to bring the parent to full time participation.

To be approved, HWHD and Degree Completion training must start by the beginning of the next school quarter. During the waiting period, the WFPS/WFSSS should review other available work activities, such as Community Service opportunities, stacked with non-core activities to meet participation requirements.

If an individual needs to wait longer for the classes to begin, s/he must go directly to, or remain in, another activity according to their comprehensive evaluation or continuous activity planning (CAP).

 

7.2.12 When can you add HWHD or Degree Completion training to an IRP?

The WFPS/WFSSS may add HWHD or Degree Completion training when it is indicated as an appropriate activity in the comprehensive evaluation results or the CAP. Each educational program option has its own criteria. Please see "Criteria for Decision Making". Each specific vocational certificate and degree program must also be approved. Please see the approval processes below for HWHD and Degree Completion.

HWHD and Degree Completion can be approved one-time only, barring an approved exception to policy. There is no work requirement during the training period. Parents must also:

Parents in approved education and training qualify for child care assistance and support services once it is added to the person's IRP.
7.2.13 What is the approval process for HWHD?
  1. Community and Technical College System
  2. For institutions within the Washington State community and technical college system, vocational training programs in IT, health care or in any other vocational programs meeting the High-Wage, High-Demand Criteria are submitted to the State Board by college WorkFirst personnel. The State Board maintains a list of approved High-Wage, High-Demand Vocational Certificate and Degree programs. Inclusion on this list indicates that the program qualifies as HWHD.

  3. All other program approval requests are generally submitted by the DSHS WPFS/WFSSS and approved by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges on a case-by-case basis when HWHD training is the recommended Employment Pathway for the parent.
7.2.14 Community and Technical Colleges HWHD training - Step-by-step guide
HWHD Community and Technical Colleges Step-by-step
  1. The ESD Employment Counselor:
    1. Refers the parent to DSHS and documents the request in eJAS.
    2. Explains to the parent the requirement to continue to participate in employment services activities, as directed in their IRP until their IRP is changed.
  2. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the HWHD training request appears to be appropriate* according to the parent's comprehensive evaluation or CAP recommendations.
    2. Refers appropriate requests to the college using the RA code, and creates the IRP.
  3. The College WorkFirst personnel:
    1. Follow through on training requests within seven days.
    2. Verify that the certificate or degree program is registered with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges as High Wage, High Demand Training. In the event that the training program is not listed, use the Labor Market Research Worksheet and High Wage, High Demand Training Criteria. Submit request to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
    3. Develop the Education and Training Plan.
    4. Use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool to determine the total number of hours per week the parent will be participating, including: scheduled class time; unsupervised homework time, any scheduled supervised homework time and the maximum number of allowable education hours.
    5. Update the Education & Training Worksheet to include the totals identified by the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, the parent's approval status, the appropriate component, the anticipated start and end date of the activity, and the total number of hours per week the parent will be participating, and send notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the parent is approved from the College WorkFirst Coordinator.
    2. Closes the RA component codes in eJAS.
    3. Enters the HW training component code into eJAS with the three-digit contractor code.
    4. Updates the parent's IRP.
    5. Reviews the quarterly reports from the College WorkFirst Coordinator (sent in via the contractor screen in eJAS) to monitor satisfactory progress.
  5. The College WorkFirst personnel will work with all parents in approved High Wage, High Demand Training as follows:
    1. Supervision: Daily supervision is required and may be provided by faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and supervisors of work-based learning activities. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is doing well in his or her program and making progress towards meeting her or his educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation: Attendance records will be documented every two weeks and maintained in the college's or provider's students' files. This information will be provided in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual as well as the student or documented in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate. A copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours will be kept in the parent's file.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Use eJAS, to report parent participation to the WFPS/WFSSS on a monthly basis,
      2. Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the student is not maintaining satisfactory progress or fails to participate as required or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.4 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification: Provide information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.
    5. Assist the graduates to become employed.
    6. Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the student is not maintaining satisfactory progress or fails to participate as required; and
    7. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the parent to employment services activities if he or she is not employed upon completion of the training.
HWHD Other Institutions - Step-by-step
  1. The ESD Employment Counselor:
    1. Refers the individual to DSHS and documents the request in eJAS.
    2. Explains to the individual the requirement to continue to participate in employment services activities, as directed in their IRP until their IRP is changed.
  2. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the HWHD training request appears to be appropriate* according to the individual's comprehensive evaluation or CAP recommendations.
    2. Screens the training program for your local labor market to determine if the degree is likely to lead directly to a high wage, high demand job, using the Labor Market Research Worksheet, High Wage, High Demand Training Criteria.
    3. Fills out WorkFirst HWHD Verfication form. Sends viable requests to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges via fax to 360.704.4418 or via email to dknackstedt@sbctc.edu.
  3. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges makes a decision and notify the WFPS/WFSSS.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the parent is approved from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
    2. Enters the HW training component code into eJAS with the three-digit contractor code.
    3. Reviews training program to ensure the parent's required participation can be met through training activity.
    4. Works with parent to identify other work or work-like activities to meet participation requirement.
    5. Updates the parent's IRP.
    6. Reports parent participation on a monthly basis in eJAS using the WorkFirst participation verification form filled out by instructor..
    7. If the individual is not making satisfactory progress, the WFPS/WFSSS closes the HW code and creates an updated IRP.

* If the employment plan recommendation or CAP is not appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2-Comprehensive Evaluation.

7.2.15 What is the approval process for Degree Completion?

Approval or denial of these requests occurs by the SBCTC. For degree completion at community and technical colleges, WorkFirst college coordinators contact the SBCTC. For programs at other institutions, WorkFirst staff at ESD or DSHS contact the SBCTC.

7.2.16 Degree Completion - Step-by-step guide
  1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the degree completion request appears to be appropriate according to the parent's comprehensive evaluation or CAP,
    2. Refers appropriate requests to the college using the RA code, creates the person's IRP,
    3. Informs the parent to bring her or his college transcript and a completed HWHD Verification form to the meeting with the College WorkFirst Coordinator, and
    4. If the degree completion request is not appropriate, develops another IRP based on the comprehensive evaluation/CAP.
  2. The college WorkFirst Coordinator:
    1. Follows through on training requests within seven days,
    2. Develops the Education and Training Plan,
    3. Follows the approval process for the degree completion request (using the process described in the section above), and
    4. Notifies the WFPS/WFSSS if the training is approved via an eJAS e-message.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the individual is approved from the college WorkFirst coordinator.
    2. When Degree Completion is approved, the WFPS/WFSSS:
      1. Enters the DC training component code into eJAS,
      2. Updates the parent's IRP.
      3. Reports actual hours monthly in eJAS using the WorkFirst Participation Verification Form completed by the instructor. See section 7.1.4 for instructions on how to capture and count homework hours for non-contracted educational providers.
    3. If the individual is not making satisfactory progress, the WFPS/WFSSS closes the DC code and creates an updated IRP.

Upon completion of the degree completion program, the WFPS/WFSSS refers the individual to employment services activities if not employed. See section 7.2.14 - Community and Technical Colleges HWHD training - step-by-step guide for DC activities provided by a community or technical college. The process is the same, except that you use the component code DC instead of HW.

Resources

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